The pandemic has us in the throes of deep wanderlust. While travel has been momentarily halted, stories such as this get our minds whirling into a spiral of possibilities. Paulo LaBerge and Heather Plewes toured throughout Tanzania and Eastern Africa, penning a journal of sorts for Esker Cycles, filled with short stories. Today, we’re sharing those tales…
“I’ve ridden many thousands of miles on my bike all these years and I can’t say I regret anything… There were rough times but also good times. You just know it’s a challenge that you’ve got to overcome.”
We all have roads that lodge in our mind, routes we want to take. One such route is across the Sprengisandur, an uninhabited highland plateau crowned by an 826-metre pass in the central ranges of Iceland.
Plenty have tried to cross, and plenty have failed. In 2015, Rapha sent filmmaker George Marshall and framebuilder Tom Donhou to attempt the crossing. But after days of high winds, the pair were forced to stop. Four years later, George returned to lead another group across the 170 miles between the end of the tarmac near Reykjavik and the northern stronghold town of Akureyri. But they were far from being the first to make the crossing.
Over 60 years before, Ron Bartle joined Dick Phillips, Bernard Heath and their guide Raymond Bottomley for the first-ever unsupported ride across the Sprengisandur. They spent ten days in the wilderness, crossing rivers in inflatable dinghies and pushing their bikes for miles over boulder fields until they finally reached the first farmstead in the north.
Now in his mid-eighties and still an avid cyclist, Ron has recounted the story of his unexpected Icelandic adventure. And at a time when many of us cannot ride the roads lodged in our minds, he reminds us that they’ll still be there this year and the next.
We embedded this feature in today’s Reportage but are posting it in our Radar as well…
Cyclist Erik Mathy rides from San Francisco to Tucson along the historic Butterfield Overland Trail. Lugging his large-format camera, handmade ‘dollar bill’ lenses, and shooting on X-Ray film, Erik documents his interactions with a variety of people — from artists and activists to the border patrol — as he explores the subject of migration against the landscape of a politically divided American southwest.
On November 1st, 2018 I rolled out to cover 1200 miles of the old Butterfield Overland Mail Route from San Francisco to Tucson, AZ. For almost a year prior the headlines had been dominated by news of things happening along America’s southern border. Child Separations. Immigration Caravans. National Guard deployments. On social media channels the rhetoric from all sides, which had already been getting increasingly strident, ramped up to a fever pitch. Normal conversations spiraled completely out of control. I found myself caught up in it all, furious at family members, friends, and strangers alike.
This Reportage took place a year prior to the pandemic… please be considerate and avoid traveling to small towns during the pandemic.
Some trips stay with you more than others, and this trip is one of those. Nebraska isn’t often touted (read: never) as a cycling destination, but the truly unique and varied geography we encountered offered some of the most quality riding I’ve had the opportunity to experience. The state’s remoteness—a combination of the incredibly low population density and vast, often exposed, landscapes—was initially a concern but in actuality lent a heightened sense of adventure to our days. This is also still the longest tour I’ve taken and being able to fully settle into the rhythm of passing the days—sun up to sun down—on the bike for a week straight was a pretty intoxicating experience.
Banking on the idea that the pandemic numbers will continue to drop, organizers have announced a 50-person capped Grand Depart for this self-supported ~350 mile Odyssey of the VOG bikepacking event in the Oregon Coast mountain range. All the details can be found here:
Head on over to odysseyvog.com and register for the first annual Odyssey of the VOG on May 29th, 2021. While you’re there, consider purchasing an apparel item at registration – all proceeds from apparel purchases benefit the Oregon Timber Trail Alliance.
This video showcases the joy brought to a group of friends while touring through nature.
Reasons to go on a bike trip have different origins; this one, in particular, originated when I saw a photo of several rock pillars lined together and I wanted to see them in person. Located in the heart of the Guarijío/Makurawe Native’s land in the southeast of my home state Sonora, “Los Pilares de San Bernardo” have witnessed the centuries that the Guarijío have made of this place their home, and in the last decade, the construction of a controversial megaproject by the federal government. Promoted with the idea of building a dam to prevent floodings further down the Mayo Valley and provide the local communities with water all year long, this project was given a fast forward before being fully evaluated and is also splattered with shady agreements between the government, big agricultural and mining companies and “local authorities” that some of the Guarijío don’t recognize as such.
January is the hardest month of the year. The annual hangover from the holidays is in full swing, most New Year’s resolutions already have been broken, and winter has yet to abate. It is because of this that it’s important to embrace moments of opportunity and spontaneity and burn off some pent up energy. So when your riding buddy drops you a text asking if you want to do an overnighter, despite an impending winter storm, you obviously say ‘Yes’.
Bombtrack’s latest video showcases a father’s relationship with his daughter via bicycle touring.
First things first, close your eyes and take 5 seconds to visualize what comes to mind when you think of Catalina Island… What do you see?
The Adventure Cycling Association just announced five new U.S. Bicycle Routes in four states – Maryland, New York, North Dakota and West Virginia – plus Washington, D.C., adding 290 miles to the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS). Check out a breakdown of each of the four-state routes below.
Álamos is a town in the southeast of the Mexican state of Sonora popular for its colonial architecture and for hosting an annual art and music festival and is also part of the network of “Pueblos Mágicos” in the country. After taking the long way from the nearest city which took me and my friend Javo five days instead of the 65 km on the main road, we arrived looking for the commodities of a town with full services. As we ride on the cobbled streets and alleys that give this town part of its essence, the fresh memories from the days that brought us here are slowly replaced by the blurry, drunken memories from my college days coming to the biggest music festival in the state. I recognize porches where I slept or found my friends sleeping, and the house where an old man invited me for a morning sip of lechuguilla, a distilled liquor made from a local species of agave, which he was drinking from a repurposed coca-cola bottle.
With four build tiers, Focus’ new gravel bike, the Atlas rolls on an aluminum chassis with a carbon fork, outfitted with cargo bosses to fit racks, fenders, and other accouterments.
This video showcases the Atlas’ possibilities but to see the build kits in detail, head to Focus.
Drawing cycling portraits admittedly started as a self-serving venture. Looking for a breather from the largely geometric aesthetic I gave my illustration work, I dug down deep to my formal college Drawing 2 class and after a seven-year hiatus, I gave realistic portraiture another shot. After some hesitation, I decided to publish them but still didn’t have the courage to tag the people referenced. The internet can be a small place and they were quickly tagged for me but this served as the little form of validation I needed. I figured if people could be recognized, then they couldn’t be that bad right?
When I organize a ride you should know what to expect: 8-10 mile an hour pace, lots of breaks to session cool features, take pictures, and definitely eat a lot of snacks. I aspire for all my rides to basically be glorified picnics.
Coming off a week of downtime after one of the most tumultuous years of our lives has brought clarity to this annual retrospective. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect as Covid-19 gripped the global community and changed life as we know it. We looked to our new home in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the surrounding areas for inspiration, pinged our good friends for their penmanship, and listened to communities that have been underrepresented in cycling. What resulted were a lot of articles that tackled some big issues and the realization that we still have a lot of work to do.
I’ve spent the past few weeks mulling over our content and have compiled a list of some of the most meaningful and fun pieces from the past twelve months. Read on below for a selection of memorable moments from 2020, in chronological order…
Recently, as I was telling the story of this trip, and this moment when, after a hard day of hill climbing in the rain and a miserable night of freezing cold sleep, we finally saw Klickitat punched out against a clear blue sky – Someone responded – “don’t you mean Mt. Adams?”
Since I’ve committed to learning the precolonial names of the outdoor spaces I explore, some understandings have begun to emerge about how we as human beings interact with the natural world. Indeed, Klickitat itself was also named Pahto by the tribes of the region. Later named for a U.S. president who was born and died in Massachusetts. Only the mountain knows what other names it’s been called. ‘Intelligent’ (I’m skeptical of anthropocentric definitions of virtue) hominids may have lived in the area for 15,000 years. What did they call the mountain in 13,000 BC, if anything at all?